April 15, 2018 Liza Swedarsky, MD FacebookTwitterPinterest I would hate to be the thin woman at the Overeaters Anonymous meeting complaining about my newfound love handles and back fat. For those of you who watch This is Us, I could slightly identify with Madison (for about two seconds). But truth be told, a muffin top can appear on any physique! We all have a baseline ideal weight, a weight where we’re not only comfortable in our own skin but also in our pants. I knew I hit an all time low when I was out at a movie theatre in my cute royal blue skinny jeans with the elastic black waist, and they were so tight around my stomach and rear end I would have watched the film in my undies if I could have. I think most of us have had a “poor wardrobe choice moment” where we find ourselves dying to get home to peel off the layers. You know how it is…when your pants are so tight you start itching. But given the harsh New England winters, the Body Shop’s Body Butter has been my constant companion so I knew the discomfort was not due to a lack of moisturizer. Then it got worse… when I really took inventory of my last full workout embodying cardiovascular exercise along with strength training, I was surprised at how long it had been. I know better. I’d like to say it was just the typical winter weight that took residence but this time the true culprit was my lack of attention to details and body signals which manifested into loss of energy, muscle weakness, aches and pains and a big creative block. I had been suffering from fatigue for some time and had been uninspired to write. But instead of dedicating time to exercising, I would choose a nap, the couch, or a box of chocolates. I knew I needed an intervention when I then decided to order a Jillian Michaels’s 30-Day Shred DVD. There I was, in my bedroom wearing a sports bra and sneakers… on my mat feeling like a loser. The workout is only twenty minutes, and I was struggling. My quads the next day were in knots. I had been going on four-mile walks, but no weights. And the gym? The most I had seen of it was the automatic deduction on my bank statement. Then I had a moment of grace when I was sharing my frustration and lack of motivation with my nurse coworker. I told her the next day how I had become my mother, ordering exercise DVDs and doing them alone in my house, dreading every minute of it. That’s when she told me about the new boutique Fitness and Cycle Studio that had opened in March in Jamaica Plain called Reps Fitness Studio. I had passed by over two dozen times, but never stopped in. As an avid ex-runner plagued by chronic foot pain, I’d been forced to find an alternative method of cardiovascular exercise about three years ago. After 30 years of running, this posed a great challenge. But recognizing we may have to adjust our approach with time and age, I had dibbled and dabbled into cycling. An hour-long cycle class, in my opinion, is like slow torture. I find myself looking at the clock and wishing I had earbuds to mask the uninspiring play list with my own music. I even tried that once. I would get through the workout feeling accomplished but never found myself feeling motivated to return. When I first walked into Reps Fitness Studio in Jamaica Plain, the positive energy was palpable. Seriously! It’s a beautiful space with calming artwork. The owner is a fitness guru with amazing energy and pays attention to detail from knowing everyone’s name to offering a small bucket of hair ties in case you forget, earplugs, and a fresh towel on each bike. Tampons and panty-liners are unassumingly placed in a beautifully inspired bathroom. Ladies…for real so nice of them to think of us. I’m into colors and the energies they bring. I found the abundance of orange throughout the studio uplifting and motivating. With a diverse roster of amazing instructors one can’t go wrong. I’ve tried almost all of the trainers. They all have their own unique style, but their energy and enthusiasm is a common theme. I think they are drinking a magic potion and they know secret things. They make everyone feel welcomed. Of course I have a couple favorites who have just the right amount of humor, encouragement, and may gently scream at me from time to time. The unique thing about Reps Fitness Studio is that each class is one hour. It’s like personal training in a group setting. The classes consist of combining 30 minutes of cycling varying from High Intensity Interval Training techniques to Endurance rides. The remainder of the class is dedicated to either core work or strength training using body bands, resistance loops and kettlebells. There's even class that offers yoga after the spin component. One can tell what class combination they are signing up for, as it’s all in the name of the class: Korecycle, Repcyle, or Cycle and Flow. The workouts are unique targeting all muscle groups. This is a challenge for many of us. We may engage in cardiovascular fitness training but ignore the strength aspect. Building and maintaining a healthy muscle mass is equally important and is key to avoiding injuries, boosting one’s metabolism, and burning fat. Muscle mass declines with age so it is important not to ignore this aspect of conditioning. I admit, I’m addicted and inspired. Finally! I haven’t been to two classes that were exactly the same. After two and a half weeks, I’m already seeing results. And the music…I haven’t encountered a playlist I did not find engaging. If anything, I love to dance, and sometimes have the urge to in the middle of class. Full disclosure, my fatigue is gone, I look forward to class, and I’m excited about the results. Even though I wrote The Health Vows, for some time I’ve been struggling with honoring one of them. Particularly Health Vow # 7 I Will Honor My Body by Eating Healthy, Prioritizing Sleep, and Being Active Being active means regular exercise. Self love and prioritizing our individual needs is an ongoing challenge. But it is essential to check in to really see if we are taking care of our bodies. Our bodies harbor our spirit. Without a healthy body it is impossible to show up in the world, in the ways we need to, in order to carry out our life’s work. I’m totally inspired. Our goal should be to emphasize a Healthy Body, Mind, and Spirit, simultaneously. Here are the steps I’ve taken this spring to reclaim my power and lose my beyond winter weight: Take Inventory: If you are suffering from fatigue, creative blocks, or depressed mood take a close look at what is the underlying cause and be willing to release what is not serving you. Get Inspired to Get Moving: Find a work out program that invigorates and motivates you. Don’t give up. Make it your mission. Invest in Yourself: Be willing to pay for your health. It is normal to need others to inspire you. Working out alone or using apps or internet programs and DVDs may save you money but may not keep you engaged. Of course finances can be a real concern, but there are always areas we can cut our spending to save room for other priorities. How much money do we spend on drinks and dinners at restaurants? I find that I won’t blink an eye to use my dollars to serve others or invest in my children but I take pause when it comes to pampering myself. I am changing this mindset. Schedule Time for Cardiovascular and Strength Training: This is a must. Don’t compromise. Just like a meeting for work or a family obligation, set time at the beginning of each week when you plan to exercise, and honor it. Set Realistic Expectations: Don’t discourage yourself by expecting too much too soon. Be realistic about your fitness goals and seek help to set those goals. We are surrounded by fitness experts and we must recognize and utilize their expertise.